The First Neon Sign

November 9th Celebrates The First Neon Sign

Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate how on November 9th 1911 a fellow by the name of George Claude applied for a patent on neon advertising at the Paris auto show in France.

He has been considered by some to be “the Edison of France”. Claude was an active collaborator with the German occupiers of France during the Second World War, for which he was imprisoned in 1945 and stripped of his honors.

Inspired by Geissler tubes and by Daniel McFarlan Moore’s invention of a nitrogen-based light (the “Moore tube”), Claude developed neon tube lighting to exploit the neon that was produced as a byproduct of his air liquefaction business.

These were all “glow discharge” tubes that generate light when an electric current is passed through the rarefied gas within the tube. Claude’s first public demonstration of a large neon light was at the Paris Motor Show.

Today’s YouTube presentation brought to you by user name Benjamin Leibfarth introduces the history of the Neon Sign which is lost art form, there small commerical in the beginning that goes pretty quick sorry about that, but the rest of the presentation is very informative as we celebrate the first patent of the neon sign on November 9th.

Although Georges Claude made his fortune by inventing the neon light, his other scientific advancements were just as important as his lucky contribution to the advertising business.

First he produced liquid chlorine, which was used in poison gas attacks. Then in 1917, he developed a higher pressure, less expensive process to synthesize ammonia, another important industrial chemical and fertilizer.

Whatever research Claude undertook after World War II was not recorded. Because of certain statements he made during the war, Claude was convicted of collaborating with Nazi Germany and spent some years in prison before he was freed by the efforts of his friends. He died in 1960.

The word neon comes from the Greek “neos,” meaning “the new gas.” Neon gas was discovered by William Ramsey and M. W. Travers in 1898 in London.
In 1923, Georges Claude and his French company Claude Neon, introduced neon gas signs to the United States, by selling two to a Packard car dealership in Los Angeles.

Neon lighting quickly became a popular fixture in outdoor advertising. Visible even in daylight, people would stop and stare at the first neon signs dubbed “liquid fire.”

As the song goes, “You Light Up My Life,” George Claude lit up our world when it came to neon signs.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell


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